Every day Astrid Lindgren’s work is performed on a theatre stage somewhere in the world. It was Astrid Lindgren who wrote the scripts to many of the stage versions of her books. She was passionately involved in the plays and had strong opinions about the way they should be performed in order that everything was done as well as it could be. To pursue this level of quality is one of our missions.
Apart from Astrid’s own theatre scripts there are many others who have adapted her books. Most of her stories are available as scripts for the stage, in one or more approved versions. Some scripts have been specially commissioned to suit children’s drama groups or amateur theatre companies with many actors.
For anyone putting on a play for a public audience, it’s important to know that no one else is doing the same or a similar piece at the same time, to avoid unnecessary competition. To keep track of all requests and rights, we turn to publishing houses specialising in theatre plays. They have all the approved scripts, and whoever wants to mount a play can expect good support in the process of choosing the right script.
1. Before a play is performed publicly, you must ensure that the rights are available and find a script that you can use. Astrid Lindgren wrote many scripts herself, but there are several other approved versions available as well. All approved scripts can be accessed via our publishers. See below which publishing house you should turn to.
2. If the rights are available, you will receive one or several scripts from the publishers to look at and to choose from.
3. When a script is chosen, a contract is signed with the publishing house. All rights and obligations are stipulated in the written contract.
4. If you are unsuccessful in finding a fitting script based on the book you want to dramatise, you could apply for consent from The Astrid Lindgren Company to develop your own script. It is not an obvious right to be granted consent to develop a new script, as it is a time-consuming and complex process. A theatre expert at The Astrid Lindgren Company will read your script making sure it follows the original story and the intentions of Astrid Lindgren as closely as possible.
‘You can put things in a book that o n l y children are amused by. You can certainly also have in it things that both children and adults enjoy, but you must never put things in a children’s book that amuse only adults. That would be rude to the child – who is going to read the book.’
What is important to remember if you want to create a new script is that the audience should still be able to recognise the story, and that Astrid’s style is protected. The feeling of the play should preferably be the same as in the book.
The point of departure should always be the child’s perspective. Astrid considered it a real offence to children to add things that were only addressed to grown-ups, like jokes or difficult words.
Astrid often described her characters through their dialogue. What that means is that it matters who says what.
Astrid was careful that others didn’t take her stories as the starting point to write something that took too many liberties with her original. Of course you don’t need to include everything that is written on the page, but you cannot add events, characters or significant places that don’t exist in what Astrid already wrote.
Different characters from different books are never allowed to interact in the same performance.
If Astrid Lindgren’s books inspire school children to write a play that isn’t exactly like in the books, then they are free to discover the joy of doing so in the confines of the classroom or the nursery. A school class or a group of nursery children can have lots of fun and may in their private sphere do what they like with the stories. However, if a teacher writes a script to be performed by the students then it should be Astrid Lindgren’s story that comes across and nothing else.
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